One of the fun things about writing is seeing how every writer has a different process. There are so many ways to write a book, and each of them is the right way.
But sometimes the book doesn’t cooperate, and the writer “gets stuck.” Words dry up, and we stare at a blank page (or screen) while we think this is the stupidest story ever created on the face of the earth. Many of us suddenly experience an urge to clean our ovens.
We call this “writer’s block.”
Sadly, many writers just give up at this point, and the world loses another potentially wonderful story. Because who knows? Maybe it really would have been, if only we’d finished the story.
Writers all have different methods for overcoming writer’s block. Some examples include:
- Brainstorming with trusted readers
- Switching to another project
- Taking a writer’s retreat
- Interviewing the character (why are you being so stubborn?)
- Typing a letter to yourself, explaining why you don’t want to write this book
- Taking a day off
- Spending some time researching
- Trying a different writing venue or using a different writing tool
- Tricking yourself with a reward method
- Sending the problem to your subconscious, which will eventually return with an answer
Fine and good, but what happens when the stuck writer has a deadline? And panic sets in?!? You don’t have time to take any time off or to trick your subconscious, or… What then?
- First of all, take a deep breath.
- Then, bite off one chunk of the elephant at a time. Do the math to figure out how big the daily chunk will have to be.
- Consider this quote, which I keep taped to my computer: “If this were real, with what the character knows, with what he/she is capable of, what could he/she do next?”
- To get to the end (you do know your end, right?) make a list of the information the characters need to learn in order to reach that end. Possible scenes generate from such lists.
- Rent a room somewhere, free of distractions, and stay there until the book is done. A writer friend of mine always swore by this.
- And never give up, because magic tends to happen under deadline. There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate us to finish.
Are you a deadline person? Do you have another method to overcome whatever block tries to stop you?